When should a person be screened or tested for skin cancer?
Men and women at increased risk, such as those with a family history of skin cancer, fair skin or outdoor jobs with exposure to UV light, should begin this process at an earlier point in time. A doctor has the duty to recommend testing for anyone who has symptoms which suggest the possibility of skin cancer.
How is screening or testing for skin cancer performed?
The primary method of screening or testing for skin cancer is self screening to become familiar with your skin so that changes in the future will be recognized. A screening by a doctor is also a way to check for any cancerous growths. One of the newest ways to screen for cancer is with dermoscopy, which the use of a small device called a dermoscope that uses light and digital images to scan the skin for problem growths.
Why is screening for skin cancer recommended?
The vast majority of skin cancers are treatable if caught at an early stage. Less invasive methods of removing a cancerous growth are an option for patients who are diagnosed prior to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Treatments for skin cancer include removal of the cancerous growth either by excision methods or through surgery. With non-melanoma forms of cancer, treatment can also include radiation and chemotherapy delivered either topically to the area or through the traditional form. Melanoma cancer may be treated with interferon, but the use of radiation or chemotherapy is not usually able to cure the cancer and is for the purpose of delaying the growth or spread of the cancer.
How much difference does early detection really make?
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1000 to 2000 people die from non-melanoma skin cancer every year in the US. In addition, over 8000 people will die from the melanoma form of skin cancer.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
In some cases, skin cancer can be present in the absence of any symptoms. That is why self- screening tests and screening by a doctor are used to find the cancer early, when it is easier to cure. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Changes to existing moles
- A new growth on the skin, either a mole or a pale bump
- A raised red bump
- A scaly, irritated patch of skin with a reddish hue
- Bleeding of moles or raised areas on the skin
How does skin cancer go undetected?
Here are some medical mistakes and errors that can cause a preventable delay in diagnosing skin cancer:
- Failure to offer or recommend routine skin cancer screening
- Failure to offer or recommend early skin cancer screening for men and women at increased risk
- Failure to offer or recommend screening in the presence of symptoms such as bleeding
- Failure to refer to a Dermatologist or Oncologist in a timely manner
- Failure to properly perform an excision or surgery to remove a growth
- Failing to remove all of the cancerous growth
- Failing to identify and remove a cancerous growth
- Failure to properly follow up on results of biopsy
- Mistakes in the pathological interpretation of tissue samples
- Failure to coordinate or communicate with other medical care providers
- Failure to obtain family history of skin cancer
- Failure to offer or recommend a biopsy or other tests when growths are removed
- Failure to properly diagnosis the type of skin cancer
What kind of harm can be caused by delayed diagnosis of skin cancer?
Early detection of skin cancer is life saving. Misdiagnosis or delayed treatment can create the need to surgically remove the growth and surrounding tissue. In addition, delay means more aggressive treatment, including the possibility of radical surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Sometimes the delay is so great that premature death cannot be avoided. Types of harm caused by delayed damage of skin cancer include:
- Premature death
- Treatment which is more invasive, aggressive, and painful
- Treatment which is significantly more expensive
- Significantly increased recovery time
- Lost wages
- Long-term or permanent disability
I have lost a loved one due to a failure to diagnose skin cancer. Do I still have a case?
Yes. If you have lost a loved one to medical malpractice you may still be entitled to compensation under wrongful death.
What can I do if I am the victim of failure to diagnose skin cancer?
No amount of money can make up for a person’s unnecessary or preventable death, or for the added pain of knowing that premature death would probably have been avoided had health care professionals acted properly. However, a person’s premature death creates a financial burden on families, and the responsible party should bear that cost. In addition, delayed treatment of colon cancer creates additional health care costs, lost wages, and in some cases permanent disability.
If you or a loved one has been injured or lost their life due to what you suspect may have been a failure to diagnose skin cancer, you may be entitled to compensation including:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future loss of wages
- Long-term disability
- Long-term care expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Burial expenses
Collectively, New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers Michael L. Weiss, Esq. and Robert E. Paarz, Esq. have presented over 10 medical malpractice cases relating to the failure to diagnose skin cancer to juries and have helped many families achieve substantial financial recoveries. They are committed to using their knowledge and experience to help any individual or family who has suffered a severe, permanent injury or death due to medical malpractice to obtain fair compensation.
If you believe you or a loved one may have experienced such an injury, please contact our skin cancer claims lawyers at Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.